Should We Worry About CLP Holdings Limited’s (HKG:2) P/E Ratio?

Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!

The goal of this article is to teach you how to use price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it practical, we’ll show how CLP Holdings Limited’s (HKG:2) P/E ratio could help you assess the value on offer. CLP Holdings has a P/E ratio of 16.07, based on the last twelve months. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 6.2%.

Check out our latest analysis for CLP Holdings

How Do You Calculate CLP Holdings’s P/E Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for CLP Holdings:

P/E of 16.07 = HK$86.2 ÷ HK$5.36 (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

A higher P/E ratio implies that investors pay a higher price for the earning power of the business. That isn’t necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

When earnings fall, the ‘E’ decreases, over time. Therefore, even if you pay a low multiple of earnings now, that multiple will become higher in the future. A higher P/E should indicate the stock is expensive relative to others — and that may encourage shareholders to sell.

CLP Holdings’s earnings per share fell by 4.9% in the last twelve months. But EPS is up 17% over the last 5 years. And EPS is down 4.7% a year, over the last 3 years. So it would be surprising to see a high P/E.

How Does CLP Holdings’s P/E Ratio Compare To Its Peers?

One good way to get a quick read on what market participants expect of a company is to look at its P/E ratio. The image below shows that CLP Holdings has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the electric utilities industry average (15.5).

SEHK:2 Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 1st 2019
SEHK:2 Price Estimation Relative to Market, July 1st 2019

Its P/E ratio suggests that CLP Holdings shareholders think that in the future it will perform about the same as other companies in its industry classification.

Don’t Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

One drawback of using a P/E ratio is that it considers market capitalization, but not the balance sheet. That means it doesn’t take debt or cash into account. Theoretically, a business can improve its earnings (and produce a lower P/E in the future) by investing in growth. That means taking on debt (or spending its cash).

Such spending might be good or bad, overall, but the key point here is that you need to look at debt to understand the P/E ratio in context.

Is Debt Impacting CLP Holdings’s P/E?

Net debt totals 19% of CLP Holdings’s market cap. This could bring some additional risk, and reduce the number of investment options for management; worth remembering if you compare its P/E to businesses without debt.

The Verdict On CLP Holdings’s P/E Ratio

CLP Holdings trades on a P/E ratio of 16.1, which is above the HK market average of 11. With a bit of debt, but a lack of recent growth, it’s safe to say the market is expecting improved profit performance from the company, in the next few years.

Investors have an opportunity when market expectations about a stock are wrong. As value investor Benjamin Graham famously said, ‘In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.’ So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

But note: CLP Holdings may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.